This is now a legacy site and could be not up to date. Please move to the new IGF Website at https://www.intgovforum.org

You are here

IGF 2016 - Day 2 - Room 8 - OF27: Freedom Online Coalition

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

***

>> MODERATOR:  I think we'll start. I want to welcome you all here to this open forum for the Freedom Online Coalition. It's something we do every year at the IGF and the opportunity for IGF participants to meet with the governments of the coalition. I'm the director of the support unit who provides the administrative and technical support to the coalition. The coalition is now consists of 30 countries who banded together to promote human rights and undertakes a variety of activities. Working with Civil Society organizations and etc., etc. There is a range of activities in the coalition. What we'll do is start with some initial introductions from some of the governments and some of the independent experts who work with the coalition and we'll throw it open. Although there is just three or four governments speaking in the intro, there are a number of other governments present so they may want to come and speak at different times and I would welcome them to contribute whenever they feel like it. I would like to start firstly with Gonzalez from the Dutch. I'll start with you if that's all right. For those who don't know the coalition was established in 2011, five years ago, at a meeting hosted by the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs. The Dutch are very much the parents of the coalition. I thought it was appropriate to invite them to both explain the thinking behind establishing the coalition in the first place but also how they've seen the coalition change over five years because we've grown from 11 countries which essentially just organized an annual conference, to now 30 countries with a range of diplomatic and practical connections. So do you want to give us your reflections on the coalition and how it's changed in the last few years?

>> Welcome to all of you and great you give me the opportunity to say something about the Freedom Online Coalition, which we very much cherish as something as a forum that is of relevance and continued relevance and importance in the world today. Indeed we started off five years ago in the Hague with a well-attended meeting at a very high level. We started five years ago with a well-attended meeting at a high level. Hillary Clinton was there among other ministers and with a good discussion about the importance of freedom online for the sake of establishing and safeguarding an open, free and secure Internet for all.

That was I think -- that was a moment when other international initiatives were also taking form like the London process, coincided more or less with the first meeting organized by William Hague in the framework of the London process which dealt with various aspects of cyber-related, Internet-related issues. Security, economic development, and also some human rights-related issues as well. There was definitely a defining moment, I think, for the international interaction. And it's also important to see the compliments between the different initiatives that have taken form over the last couple of years. What was very important for us from the beginning is that although it is designed to be a coalition of governments, that multi-stakeholder government had to be assured very firmly and is quintessential for the success of the coalition. So we are definitely very happy with the way that has been taken shape.

I would like to mention in that regard recent -- the recent achievements of the three working groups multi-stakeholder working groups that were established in the meeting in Mongolia they were established or before? Tunisia? I'm a newcomer. I don't have all the dates ready in my mind. The establishment of the multi-stakeholder working groups was definitely a great step forward, a way to work together on more complicated issues that were where until now, until quite recently, states used to have a bit of the  monopoly and stakeholders weren't that involved. I would like to highlight the work of the first working group on a human rights-based approach to cybersecurity. A working group that has resulted in both a recommendation -- a definition, human rights based definition of cybersecurity and a series of very practical hands-on policy recommendations that could, I think, inspire every cyber strategy all over the world. Although there are differences, of course, in every -- to be taken into account. But there are basic tools for a rights based cybersecurity policy.

What I would like to highlight is we think that the advocacy has come a long way. Its initial goal still stands firmly, to serve as a multi-lateral coordinating body that advances cross regional diplomacy to promote and protect human rights online globally. Definitely still a very valid mission statement and unfortunately we have not made ourselves obsolete. There is still a need for -- although we've done a lot of good work not only in the advocacy but we haven't made ourselves obsolete yet. A lot of work to be done still. So we remain very, very proud of being part of the advocacy. It has grown. We are 30 members now. There are active stakeholders. And we would like to continue the advocacy further.

The membership is 200% since 2011. It is a definitely a good trend. There are some things that are high on our agenda. Essential elements that we are -- we think would contribute to an even stronger coalition. And those elements are in the first place the need to design a collective strategy on how and where to propagate principles and norms that we've set in our own joint statements. So that means that we have to find better channels and -- of feeding our statements, our joint positions into key international events. For example, by means of ensuring better coordination in other multi-level forums. Advocacy members could gain clout by coordinating before in another multi-national forum as well. I know it's already taking shape in UNESCO and other U.N. bodies but we could make better.

Secondly, we are very much also interested in an idea to continue and to further strengthen our dialogue with other countries and to help to see whether there are possibilities to increase capacities, for example. But we also think that as members ourselves, we have to continue to live up to our principles and to our commitment. The advocacy is not a forum that you adhere to just by demonstrating your commitment only once. It is an ongoing commitment that you have to continue to develop. So in that regard -- and I think that if we demonstrate that more visibly to the rest of the world that we are indeed doing that, that we are all members and continuously strengthening our commitment to freedom online, we could increase our credibility around the world even more. We are very happy that we could commission a survey to Susan Morgan to undertake a review of how the advocacy was working. She did a great job and identified many essential proposals and indeed one of them was that we as members could perhaps design a way to engage in a discussion among ourselves about how we are complying. And we hope and feel there is a commitment among all the members to work in that direction and we're very happy with that issue.

Last but not least we think it is vital that the advocacy continues to increase and development in a creative way its interaction with stakeholders. And we could think about issues that are high on our agenda like why we could work together more visibly like the Internet shutdowns, for example. We feel there is still more to do in the interactive manner with stakeholders. Thank you.

>> Thanks very much. One of the early projects of the coalition was the Defenders Partnership. I would like to invite Loretta Munoz to explain what the DDP is doing. Loretta. Press the on/off button.

>> LORETTA MUNOZ:  Hello, good morning. Thank you. Well, I am one of the fellows of the Digital Defenders Partnership and we see an increase of attack to our women and yet many from LGBT community. Principally here in the Latin America region. So we are, for example, in my case, I'm supporting women, human right defenders in Mexico who in the last 10 years receive many attacks through Internet. Most of the attacks come from different actors, and so we are trying to support them to increase their security -- online security and we are working with, for example, many different groups in Latin America, feminist groups who are working and supporting the sexual human rights. And so these groups are always under attack. So since 2013, Digital Defenders Partnership received 300 proposals of which we approved 72 because our funds are limited. The program rejects several good proposals. For example, to development, because we don't have enough funding for that so we try to let the ones rejected be found by other OTA, Access Now, etc.

Since 2013DDP approved 26 sustainable emergency grants, 1500 Euros, 25 incidental emergency grants to 10,000 Euros, 590 organization was supported in the last year. 6,000 individual people are supported and user and target country by infrastructures and higher solution was 14 million 800.

Digital Defender Partnership was initiated in 2012 by the coalition to advise Internet freedom and to keep the Internet open and free from emergency threat. Specifically in Internet repressive and transnational and environmental. That's what we are working with. The DDP is currently funded by six donors and hosted by the INGO HIVOS. Their role is to provide security for bloggers and other Civil Society activists and facilitate emergency responses capacity building, we do these by measure -- by providing grants, emergency capacity building to individuals and organizations. And providing service like linking and learning advice and organizational long-term security and protection measures, and rapid response network coordination. To reporters and individual experts, organization, provide security after attack and threat to human rights defenders. And in the case of human right defenders or critical Internet users under threat.

We work together with a network of global and local networks in a strategic partners, media/legal defenders initiative and try to provide a diversity of responses, legal response, Internet infrastructure. Physical or psycho social support. We work on the demand base approach and requests come from areas of conflict, elections, repression, or from areas where, for example, women or LGBT rights are not being recognized.

So actually the DDP current donors are U.S. State Department, ministry of the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and other corporation agencies. DDP is an independent entry from donor countries. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks very much. I'll move to Kenneth on my left from the Government of Ghana. From the benefit of people who don't work in government what did Ghana see as joining. Why would a government choose to invest any time and resource in joining this type of organization?

>> KENNETH: Thank you, David. I think first of all Ghana finds the Freedom Online Coalition as a good initiative for all governments to join efforts in advancing freedom online. We also think that is an opportunity to form international cooperation and collaboration with other governments in terms of information sharing and also to lend best practices from a best practices and successes from other governments. We also think that this -- the freedom online corporation gives us an opportunity to engage with Civil Society and the private sector in terms of efforts to ensure that there is freedom online. And we think it is a good for the benefit of our country. The citizens are looking up to us to governments to ensure they have freedom online and it is our duty that we let that happen. The Freedom Online Coalition gives us a platform to do that. We think it is a good initiative and encourage governments not part of it, join us so we can ensure that the freedom -- there is freedom online. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks, Kenneth. He is an independent who worked with the coalition through the working groups. Eileen, could you give us the point of view a sense of the value of engaging with the coalition that you found but also your thoughts on how it could be improved. How that relationship working with the Internet policy community in this room, how that could be strengthened.

>> EILEEN: Yes, so I think that what I want to comment on is the self-identity of the Freedom Online Coalition. Because I think that there has been a little bit of a crisis of confidence. The Freedom Online Coalition started at a moment when there was so much optimism about what technology could do for human rights defenders. And there was this sense that the governments that got together saw themselves as champions of the universal human rights framework and were trying to facilitate access to technology to keep human rights defenders and activists ahead of the curve. It was a very simple time 2011.

Then we went through a phase sort of the middle years of, you know, starting with Snowden, frankly, which caused a crisis of confidence and I think the coalition turned within and did a lot of self-reflection and reflection between governments about who are we and do we have any credibility? I think recently there has been a new phase, which is that the whole world has seen this growing conceptual confusion and complexity about how you govern in this space, and can universal human rights principles apply and if so, how? There are multiple dimensions of this that a lot of us have talked about. But digitalization of everything itself has dramatic consequences for human rights. So on the one hand it facility states communications.

The Internet has been great for freedom of expression and assembly and sometimes on the other hand, it facilitates tracking and monitoring and it undermines privacy and human rights work and actually leads to this physical threat to human rights defenders around the world.

It also potentially undermines the Democratic mode of governance because it inverts who is watching who. Governments are watching -- have tools to watch citizens and citizens are no longer feeling that they can operate privately, organize privately or they're really the sovereigns watching government.

The other big challenge we've seen and messing with the concept there can be a universal human rights network, trans border reach of everyone from hackers to terrorists to governments is the norm rather than the exception. And the universal human rights framework generally started with this obligation of nation states defined by boundaries protecting citizens within, and now everybody has this trans-border reach. There is a lot of confusion on how to handle that. Also the other big trend is the happening on the ground is the privatization of governance with the big digital platforms using -- having terms of service or community guidelines where they are really dictating the parameters of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association in ways that we do not know how to conceptualize. The human rights framework doesn't really address the private sector and digital insecurity that comes from being connected. Everything being connected. So I think it's kind of been overwhelming to the governments. It has overwhelming for Civil Society and overwhelming for the private sector. This is a very complex environment.

What do I think the Freedom Online Coalition should do? Everybody should re-embrace your leadership role. Remember yourselves -- think of yourselves as champions of universal human rights and you need to go deeper in thought leadership and you need to go deeper in process leadership. I think because of all the complexity we see a threat to the two foundational things the coalition was formed to protect. Number one, the concept of universality is under assault because of the conceptual confusion and then the global platform for communication is under assault because of this sense of insecurity. So I think the coalition needs to just get its act together and recommit to protecting those things. I also would say as a process matter, the multi-stakeholder process approach is first of all something that has been demonstrated within.

The three working groups that were formed were an experiment. I think they have been very surprisingly successful. I know the working group that I'm a part of, we have an output that is potentially very significant to addressing this fear about digital insecurity. It's a human rights-based approach to cybersecurity and a set of recommendations that we agree to in this multi-stakeholder context. And it's a product that can help the coalition address its own credibility and address the sense of systemic insecurity that is out there that is causing a fracturing of the Internet and the universal human rights norms.

Start with what you've got and use it to the max. Capitalize on what you've already demonstrated and that can help rebuild self-confidence and identity.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks very much, Eileen. Final reflections I'll come to the U.S. State Department. The coalition started at the beginning at 11 countries that met once a year. It is now 30. Very diverse countries from all over the world with a series of very different kinds of diplomatic and political connections. I know it's undertaken review of its processes and procedures and maybe, Gigi, fill that in and say to the wider community here what in that review process the governments are looking for to engage with the kind of people represented in this room.

>> Thank you, Andrew, and thanks to everyone who made the time to come to this. It looks like a great group of familiar faces and some new faces. This is really an opportunity for the FOC to try to share and communicate out what it's doing. One of the things that we've heard through the strategic review is we need to take more time to take the opportunity to do that.

I would like to think of what my remarks will be is explaining a little bit of how FOC is trying to do what idea just outlined and beginning with the conference that happened in Mongolia in 2015 may, the FOC took the decision to undergo a strategic review, assess its operations and look at performance indicators and try to devise a way forward. A lot of it was about getting back on a forward foot, recognizing that there had been a lot of work done in those middle years, and that there needed to be a strategy for moving forward.

And Carmen already outlined a lot of what was the outcome of the review and if you'll permit me just a few minutes to describe the process of the review because I know a lot of people in the room won't know about it. And I think it was a very good process and sometimes it helps to know how it was done to see why certain outcomes are what they are.

So the mandate started with a working group to undergo the strategic review and was tasked with doing an inclusive and transparent process to be able to arrive at an evidence-based approach to what the future of the coalition should look like. It lasted for 15 months and we can report that there was a high interest from external stakeholders, from the membership in the review process itself. I can give some numbers about that high interest.

Carmen already spoke about the external assessment that was performed by an independent consultant, Susan Morgan, working with the University of Pennsylvania to publish this report. She talked to many representatives of the multi-stakeholder working groups. Some who hadn't been that engaged but were familiar with the Internet governance space and had the expertise to capture external perceptions and some internal perceptions of what the FOC was. Not many people understood what the FOC was. Her six recommendations included at the top. Clarify aims and objectives. I should say that the four categories are pillars of the review included what are the aims and objectives. What would be criteria and processes for membership. How to examine structure and shape that structure to facilitate aims and objectives and finally, of course, funding. How are we going to resource this initiative? So the working group consisted of nine FOC members. It was co-chaired by the U.S. and the UK. We had several face-to-face meetings. We had several calls and we really took on an ambitious work plan for what we would do.

In addition to commissioning the external report we asked the support unit to do a stock taking report. So we have now a sort of add on of what the growth of FOC looked like. More than doubling membership. More than tripling activities and traces what that expansion and growth looks like and this is available online. Very useful report for anyone who wants to see how did it start, where did it go and understand how it can  pivot to where it wants to go next.

Third was a member survey based largely on Susan's external report to capture the diverse perceptions and perspectives of the membership. All 30 members. Really happy to say 29 out of 30 members filled out the report. This is 97%. I don't think any of us actually thought that we were going to be able to achieve that. We set ourselves a more modest aim to have at least more than half so that we could say it was a mandate from the membership. And we were aiming for 2/3. To get almost 100% was great and gets to what we've said about reenergizing engagement both within the membership and with stakeholders.

In terms of next steps after those three inputs were developed, that being the external report, the stock taking report and membership survey we had an analysis of the raw data from the survey. There is a narrative report from the analysis. These three inputs resulted in the final report and recommendations of the working group to the FOC and then that was used to device the sort of political statement, strategic decision by the FOC as the full 30 membership on what to do next.

So this is available in what's called the San Jose statement and work plan and we consider that to be a roadmap to strengthening engagement with members and stakeholders. So again not trying to say there would be a sole focus on just internal members, not trying to say there would be a sole focus on just the working groups. These needed to be strengthened together for either to be very meaningful to the other. And there was a work plan on how exactly that would look. So carmen mentioned in terms of aims and objectives. Remaining a multi-lateral body that has multi-stakeholder engagement for promoting and protecting human rights online is kind of the mission statement of the FOC and also recognized and this is more of an internal point, but the need to remain flexible and nimble in structure and strategy. There was a lot of debate about whether the coalition needed to be formalized and formally registered, legally registered somewhere and how to increase that. There wasn't a major appetite for that yet. It looks like it is still a point in the development of the coalition that it benefits from having a semi-formal structure and again, we recognize that comes sometimes with tradeoffs especially in terms of communication. And so that's something that the FOC just needs to be mindful of. The more informal structure means more informal communication and that can cause some breakdowns in that coordination and collaboration especially with external stakeholders. This is something that we'll be mindful of and try to mitigate those tradeoffs, but for now this was the direction the FOC decided to go.

How to give expression to those aims and objectives. The FOC decided to focus on three priority activities and again, focus seems to be as many of us know, the way to be successful at some things instead of being unsuccessful at many things. So these priorities came again from the responses to the survey. They include shaping global norms and this was really based on a finding, observation that the joint statements, the FOC has gradually been releasing since its founding in 2011 have contributed to shaping global norms and have found ways of filtering into other bodies that are there to establish human rights norm setting, and this was a way for the FOC to coordinate on setting a precedent that could then be shared.

Next was local coordination. The FOC was originally founded to be an information sharing body, a coordinating body for multi-lateral diplomacy and that continues to be important especially as a lot of the existing regional and international bodies are making decisions that have impacts on human rights online and they need to be sort of educated about how to apply this overriding norm that the same human rights that apply off line apply online and there are currently three existing local networks, one in New York, one in Geneva, one in Paris, and how to sort of strengthen these local networks and maybe establish new ones is going to be a priority activity for the FOC going forward.

Finally, the conference. There is still value in these major convention for the FOC governments and with external stakeholders. Doesn't need to be an annual conference or a stand-alone conference. These are still open for discussion and we'll be doing new experiments to see what works best. I don't think I'll be announcing anything too soon to say that the next time the FOC hopes to convene collectively is on the margins of the Stockholm Internet forum and this is where we hope to see a major showcase of the work of the multi-stakeholder working groups. Hopefully all three will be able to showcase the outcomes of their work much like Eileen was outlining. Again, sorry to speak at length. This is a valuable opportunity to communicate what we've been doing. If I have missed anything, I see a large number of FOC colleagues in the room and I'm sure they can jump in to help me out.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Gigi, we have governments in the room to recognize. Those of you interested in putting points, questions or thoughts to do that at this point. Feel free to ask any questions you have about the coalition. If you have thoughts that we should be looking at including emerging issues, that would be very valuable. If you thoughts how the communities could engage with the FOC be very useful and if there are specific actions for diplomatic arenas that you think the coalition should focus on, any ideas you have would be very valuable. It is an opportunity now for you to give us your thoughts and any suggestions and so on that you have. I'll take the woman first and then --

>> Hello, everyone. Thank you very much. I'm from the -- we're a Latin American geo we have offices in Chile and Venezuela and Mexico. I want to take up three minutes to denounce something about the Mexican government. I think it's very paradoxical we are discussing how to make the Internet a more Democratic, open, safe and free space when we have still 43 disappearing students that we haven't found. We have torture. Violence against women. 99 journalists murdered since the year 2000. As we have all said and known, human rights online and offline must be connected, not discussed separately. We believe that the Mexican government has not been complying with some of the commitments setting the -- sorry, first there is a systematic and interception of private communications. This violates as we have all well said free speech and privacy rights. Mexican authorities unlawfully intercept private communication and obtain location in realtime through illegal means. 99% of these acts according to a recent report made by a Mexican organization are carried out without judicial oversight. Let alone a judicial warrant, of course. In a country where authorities are very much connected with organized crime, this is very worrying. And I put this question forward. Are we letting organized crime access our metadata on our private communications? I'm totally terrified.

Second the use of surveillance malware to spy an journalists and political opponent. They are -- they sell one of the most invasive surveillance softwares in the world. They bought almost 6 million Euros worth of this malware. Of course, paid with public resources and our taxes. We knew in the 2015 leak that a very nearby state the malware was used to spy on political opponents, which was a political -- who wants to run for president in 2018. Then also two months ago the Canadian group citizens love published evidence regarding the malware using iPhones to install and suck all the information. This was the device of a dissident journalist which is one of the leading investigators in the biggest corruption scandal regarding the president, and house worth around $8 million that still no investigation has been opened. We don't know if this attack was state sponsored but in 2015 hacking team leaks we do know that the police bought malware from NSO group.

Then because this doesn't end, in March 2016 Bloomberg published a report on a hacker that was hired by those now in power to spy on political opponents during election campaigns. Bloomberg published this piece. The Mexican government denied it but the evidence was pretty solid.

The third part calls about governments to hold hacking as well as blocking and monitoring of opposition voices and other repressive measures to repress. Lastly, the DNCA has been used by the president's office to take down YouTube videos where the president makes mistakes, confusing cities with states and sometimes cities with countries. It is, of course, a laughable matter for us Mexican citizens but also a very important matter of public interest. The six point in this agenda calls about governments worldwide to promote -- limitations or restrictions line content or user access. Right now the same president's office is employing tweeter bots using the #IGF 2016. This is a practice we have seen since 2012 and employ the same bots to spam Twitter hashtags impeding our right to collectively organize protesting the media is also here in Mexico in a very difficult situation due to public advertising. Then again this space cannot be a simulation, this is the word that best describes the Mexican government, so I wanted the take up this three minutes to urge and demand the Mexican government to respect not only this space as members of this space, but also the international human rights obligations. Thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks very much indeed for I think a very serious set of information to lay before the room. I don't recognize a member of the Mexican government in the room. If they are here, perhaps they would like to identify themselves so they might want to respond. If not, I think we have the documentation that we've captured of your statement and you could leave that with us to consider how best to respond. Thank you very much for bringing it to the meeting's attention and the other governments in the room. It may not have been familiar with some of the things you talked about. Thank you.

>> I work for Access Now. I wanted to salute the efforts of the Freedom Online Coalition and wanted to draw attention to the issue of Internet shutdowns. We are a coalition, we spearhead a coalition called keep it on in 100 organizations from 50 countries dedicated to fighting the disruption of the Internet. Shutdowns harm human rights and create a black out in which atrocities occur and harm economies. We've recorded more than 50 disruptions around the world this year. We believe there may have been hundreds in 2016 alone. Around elections, for school exams, even issues such as end-to-end encryption. We've had major victories. The Human Rights Council made an important ruling this, the global initiative made an important statement as well. This last week we had the great news that two countries, Chad and Ethiopia lifted long-term restrictions on the Internet and Gambia, which had an election, did disrupt the Internet for one day but international pressure appears to have made a difference. It certainly made a difference in Chad and Ethiopia where there is a clear connection between human rights violations and the Internet being shut off.

We have learned from local partners on the ground that international pressure really does help stop Internet shutdowns. As a statement of support for the efforts of the Freedom Online Coalition and to encourage further action, we have a message from 45,000 supporters around the world, which is right here, this stack of paper, which we'll deliver at the end of the session today. The statement reads, I urge you to publicly commit to keep the Internet on, Internet shutdowns harm human rights and the economy and that's directed at all world leaders. Thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks very much. Rebecca.

>> REBECCA MCKENNAN: Thanks very much. My name is Rebecca McKennan and I direct the ranking digital rights project in America. I just want to applaud what Gisela had to say and point out that Mexico is not the only country for which there are concerns. I was just taking a quick glance at the latest freedom on the net report that is benchmarking countries levels of online freedom and noticing among the Freedom Online Coalition countries whose score decreased in the past year are Australia, France and Germany. And so I think we have a problem here that we have countries that have made commitments and it's clear the freedom online coalition has not succeeded in helping or pushing or encouraging or the member governments to make the Internet at home more free and open, let alone, you know, certainly the Digital Defenders Partnership is to be applauded. There are many things with the working groups that have been good. It is unclear whether any of the recommendations by the working groups will be actually taken up by governments or implemented in any way. And I think Civil Society that has been engaging in good faith in the working groups and with the Freedom Online Coalition will maintain the good faith for the period of time. After which I think people might wonder whether they are helping to offer legitimacy and credibility to trends that are negative. And helping to sort of deflect criticism and bring a legitimate fig leaf to something that is not actually going in the right direction. So I'm wondering if any of the -- whether it's member government representatives or perhaps anybody else who has been involved with the Freedom Online Coalition can talk about how we can see concrete commitments by government to actually meet their commitments as members.

>> MODERATOR: I'm going to come back to the points you raised but I want to get any other questions or contributions out before we start. Do we have -- can you --

>> I'm Martin, Krgyzstan. I would like to ask the Freedom Online Coalition has tools and resources for promoting ideas of Freedom Online Coalition and membership outside the coalition itself? Because for example, next year we'll organize in the second regional centralization and would be happy to have somebody from Freedom Online Coalition to present ideas, the vision of Freedom Online Coalition on things like cybersecurity, countering violent extremism online. Because the governments in central Asia sometimes see not the right ways to do it. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks. Anyone else before I come back to some of the governments to respond? Yeah. Have you got a mic there I think? Reach for the mic and press the on/off button until the light comes on. Great.

>> Okay. Thank you. My name is Moses and I come from a network of several organizations in Uganda that promote and support the use of -- to empower them and address the issues and challenges. And talking about the Internet shutdown. We have already had it in Uganda and like they said there have been great efforts by Access Now and other organizations to help put pressure on government to stop this emerging trend. But also I'm talking from the perspective of several women who actually lack the skills and capacities to be able to bypass such shutdowns in certain instances. And I would like to see if the efforts by Freedom Online Coalition to work together with women organizations to build that capacity and to help them to be able to address some of these issues that they may not be able to deal with. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks very much. Let's come back first of all to the Internet disruption shutdown issue. I'll invite, in case your State Department who is leading on the FOC response in this issue just to explain what the FOC is planning to do and then I'll come back to Rebecca's points separately.

>> Thank you very much. Andrew. Thank you very much for your partners in Access Now for all the work you've done raising this issue and pressuring us to respond in many ways. We had the good fortune, the United States Government of co-organizing a panel in San Jose addressing the issue of Internet shut downs and we had a great response to it. And it really encouraged members of the coalition to look forward on what we could do. One of the most concrete examples of what we could do immediately providing us ourselves a tool or a mechanism to respond to these shutdowns is a joint statement.

The Freedom Online Coalition is a coalition of like-minded governments that work together to advocate for Internet freedom both at home in our bilateral and multi-lateral relations and a great way of establishing our commitment to opposing network shutdowns and providing partners is to draft language that we can all agree upon and we're certainly looking not only within the 30-member governments but we seek participation input and edits from our partners in Civil Society and business. This is an ongoing project and I'll distribute my contact information but I would be happy to get this input from you all.

Another important component of our response is Kenneth will be co-drafting this language, with all the bad news there is always the good news story. There are governments who will stand up and say that the Internet will not be shut down in the face of these issues. So thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks, maybe I could come over to carmen or Gigi or Rebecca's points. The question of the coalitions own credibility and domestic record is an important one and governments can join the coalition in a fit of enthusiasm and the government can change. Elections can come in and a different government gets elected and takes a different direction. How does the coalition respond to that given it does aspire to promoting high standards globally?

>> Right. I think first of all to say how much we appreciate raising those concerns in this session and repeatedly. Because this is one of the ways that the initiative, the coalition works. This is one of the reasons why it exists. And so the interventions don't fall on deaf ears, believe me. We talk about this a lot. And carmen alluded to it already in her comments. I wanted to say that one question to add on top of Rebecca's question is also what would the State of Internet freedom in these countries if it weren't for the FOC? It is hard to be able to say if it managed to hold the line on some indicators. We have been briefed on the findings of the freedom on the net report and while it doesn't cover all 30FOC governments, it is possible to spot the trend in there that a lot of the areas of backsliding, when it comes to this coalition of countries, are in the areas of violations of users rights and we can hone in specifically on where that is going and something we've talked at length about how to use.

I notice now also that I spoke mostly to objective two of the work plan that the San Jose statement has on how we'll implement the decisions that have been made about the strategic future of the FOC. Let me just say a couple of quick notes about objective one and objective three. Objective two was about the activity, the coordination and engagement with members and Civil Society. Objective one is about increasing effectiveness, coherence and credibility of the coalition while sustainably and strategically expanding coalition membership. Interesting to note there is a commitment to continuing to seek out new members, use the coalition as a way to, you know, encourage good behavior. But then if you go into the subset of goals within the objective you will see there is a commitment to using the FOC as a way to continue to encourage performance, to be a club of good performers. So in goal one there is revising and clarifying membership criteria. You can find this in the Nairobi terms of reference. My colleague will be reaching out to you. There can be input, too, on what sort of actors we seek to add. And then coalition -- goal 1.3 and 1.4 get to the heart of commitments and responsibilities. So first is clarifying member responsibilities engagement with domestic stakeholders and international bodies as well as participation in coalition conferences, meetings and other activities. So there is expected to be an indicator of some kind about stakeholder engagement and 1.4 is establishing internal procedures to promote adherence to these commitments and responsibilities. This is intended, again the agreement was to work with an internal procedure to promote adherence. It will rely heavily on fellow FOC members being that point of leverage. But that is there and then I'll let everybody read 3. This is how do we leverage other existing bodies that have a mandate that overlaps with the FOC, it includes the open government partnership and includes the community of democracy, includes existing multi-lateral bodies and stakeholders and how to strengthen cooperation with them and how to strengthen engagement with other stakeholders in the private sector and Civil Society through those. So this -- you can even go to this work plan and see who has been assigned the responsibility for implementing these various goals. That is something that we're going to be able to monitor. This isn't just some pledges with no follow-up.

Andrew, can I add in terms of where there are little measurements and kind of where there is building a record of some success is actually on network shutdowns. We were very concerned and then happy to resolve the concern that no FOC government has been involved in an Internet shutdown over the past year. Likewise, you know, we turn to an index from the community to protect journalists and found no FOC government is listed in the index that CPJ puts out on arrests of journalists.      >> Just to thank you all of you and also Rebecca for your remarks. I just want to say for my part that as far as the interaction and involvement of stakeholders is concerned, I mean, you can also see it from the other side. If there weren't any intense stakeholder involvement we wouldn't be having this discussion on a regular basis and we wouldn't -- we would have less opportunity to take your concerns on board. As far as the recommendations and the work of the working groups is concerned, give us a bit of time. We definitely are doing our utmost to give them a good future and sustainability and to make them work. Yes, thanks.

>> MODERATOR: Finally, one further communication, do it through the support units. We can feed the communications to the relevant quarters. Feel free to contact us, myself and my colleague are both here and we'll come back to you on maybe having an FOC rep come to the regional conference to talk about that. We can talk about that outside the meeting. Apologies, I didn't get in everybody. The time actually was against us. Thank you very much for coming and we hope to see you and work with you in the future.

(Applause)

(Session came to a close at 1:00 PM CT)

 

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411